Romain Grosjean declared his full-time Formula One career closed on Wednesday but said he remained open to any stand-in role and would also be following up the offer of a farewell test with Mercedes.
The French 34-year-old bowed out last year after a fiery crash in Bahrain, two races before the end of the season, and is set to start a new adventure in IndyCar.
“I think it’s a closed book, but never say never,” the former Haas driver told reporters in an online news conference. “If there are any good opportunities in Formula One, I would be more than happy to jump in.
“I’ve got the experience, I think I can adapt myself to the car… there’s always a risk that a driver may not compete in a race.”
Six of the 20 drivers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started, including Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Mexican Sergio Perez, Canadian Lance Stroll and Hamilton all had to miss races last year due to the virus, with Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg filling in for the first two and Britain’s George Russell serving as a stand-in at Mercedes.
AlphaTauri’s Gasly, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris contracted the virus post-season.
Grosjean said the days of just making up the numbers were over, however.
“If it’s being in Formula One to barely go out of Q1 (first qualifying) once or twice a year… I think that chapter is closed for me. I’d much rather look at other places where I can go race and potentially try to win races,” he said.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said after Bahrain that he would give the Frenchman a farewell test if nobody else could provide an opportunity. Grosjean said he hoped to take the Austrian up on the offer.
“It’s an offer you cannot refuse,” he said.
“At the minute I think they are absolutely flat out in building the new car for the new season… so I won’t phone Toto right now. But he can expect to get a phone call eventually and me asking to have a go at it.”